Seven activists chained themselves to the front gate of the White House lawn this morning in protest of deportations. "Not one more," they chanted. "Not one more."
In 2012, the Obama administration deported 409,849 immigrants, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Opponents argue the record number of deportations is tearing families apart. Federal officials say they are simply enforcing the law.
"President Obama needs to know the suffering he causes in our communities," said Tomas Martinez, a volunteer organizer with the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, which helped organized the White House protest. "We have organized marches, spoken to legislators, signed petitions, made phone calls, but we have to do more."
Last June, President Obama announced a so-called deferred action policy that would temporarily halt deportations of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, completed high school, and have no criminal record. Immigrant advocates want Obama to now extend a moratorium on deportations to all undocumented persons.
Obama ruled out a broader suspension of deportations in an interview with Spanish-language network Telemundo on Tuesday.
"I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally," Obama said. "That's not an option."
The protesters came from across the country: Arizona, New Orleans, Georgia and New York. They held a sign with a picture of President Obama's face that read, "Mr. President, Stop Deportations."
They were released this afternoon after being cut down and arrested by law enforcement, though they did announce plans for additional acts of civil disobedience next month in Arizona.